If I had to make a composite question that gets at the heart of the question that I am asked most frequently, it would be this:
How can I manage my time more effectively and bring balance to my life in regard to work, family, friends, and social obligations?
With this in mind, here are some keys to help bring balance to a chaotic life.
1. Be acutely aware of the reasons you should manage your time and bring balance to your life. In fact, most of us really know how to do it, don’t we? Then why don’t we? I think it comes to the issue of having a powerful motivating factor or reason. Below are two reasons that keep me motivated:
- A life of accomplishment. When I am old and unable to get out with the young folks anymore, I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I accomplished much and that my life benefited others. That is why I do what I do now. It is what drives me to pursue what I pursue with a passion and vigor. It is why I bring my life into balance is many areas so I can achieve much in many areas.
- A legacy. Here is a powerful motivating image that I picture with regularity: Picture a family gathering five years after your death. What will it look like? What will the people be talking about? How will they remember you? What will be the quality of their lives and how will you have been instrumental in that? These are questions that we can for the most part, answer now by how we live our lives (for better or for worse). Our lives make a difference in the lives of others! This is a tremendous reason to bring my life into balance!
Once we answer the why question, and root it firmly in our minds and hearts, we come to the how.
2. Sit down and prioritize. Have you ever taken a couple of hours and listed everything that you are involved in or could be involved in and then prioritized it by importance? You may come up with a hundred items but that’s okay. You’ll want to separate them into some categories as well, such as work, family, health, friends, hobbies, spiritual, financial, intellectual, emotional, etc.
Now you have something to look at to determine what’s important. This will help you in the process of eliminating areas from your life that you shouldn’t be spending time on. And this is an important part: Frustration comes when we get involved in something that isn’t a priority and we kick ourselves the whole time we do it. If we stick to priorities, we eliminate much of that.
3. Learn the most powerful word in the human language: No. Just look in the mirror and practice saying that word with a smile on your face. This may be the most important part – learning to decline opportunity. It all depends on whether or not it fits in with your priorities.
4. Learn this principle: Good is the enemy of the best. There are lots of good activities we can spend our time on. But when they replace the activities that should be our priorities, they become our enemy. They become counter-productive to a successful and balanced life.
So ask yourself: Is this good? Or is it the best? Do the best you can to stick to the best!
5. Schedule your time. The more we fly by the seat of our pants, the more apt we are to lose control of our time. If we schedule our time, we can become a bit more objective and bring our lives into balance. For example, you may make it your goal to be home by six o’clock every night. In your schedule book, you write in that you have an appointment at six. You schedule to leave the office at five-thirty. Now when a co-worker comes in with an “opportunity” for you to work on, you say, “Sorry, I have an appointment at six that I can’t break. Let’s get together and talk about it first thing in the morning.” Scheduling your time, coupled with saying “No,” will do wonders for bringing your life into balance!
6. Look at areas of external pressure that cause us to be out of balance. For example, financial obligations may be the reason why we work too much. We should look at those obligations to see if we can eliminate or reduce them.
7. Give thought to what secret pleasures we gain from being out of balance. For example, sometimes we let ourselves over commit because we don’t like conflict.
Peace is our secret pleasure. Sometimes we allow ourselves to become out of balance because we like it when people say, “Boy, she sure is a dynamo. Look how busy she is.” Admiration from others is our secret pleasure.
What other ways can you bring balance to your life? Share your comments with us below.